The Real Life Test

Chapter Ten

July 1994


Chapter One: 1993
Chapter Two: November 30-December 16
Chapter Three: December 17-January 1
Chapter Four: January 1994
Chapter Five: February 1994
Chapter Six: March 1994
Chapter Seven: April 1994
Chapter Eight: May 1994
Chapter Nine: June 1994
Chapter Ten: July 1994
Chapter Eleven: August 1994
Chapter Twelve: September 1994
Chapter Thirteen: October 1994
Chapter Fourteen: November 1994

Friday, July 1

With no plans to leave town for the weekend of the fourth, we rented a movie and cocooned tonight. The weather has been so bad that no one really can do outdoor activities.

Tonight we had the first of two special experiences. It may sound ridiculous, but it was very bonding for me, Theresa, and Margaux.

It was time for Theresa to have her catheter removed. And why should she pay for a physician visit? She has her own private duty nursing team. I obtained some gloves and a knife blade. As Margaux held Theresa's hand in hers, I cut the catheter to drain the balloon. It slipped out easily and painlessly, relieving Theresa's apprehension. Later next week I will remove the sutures.

Saturday, July 2

Theresa continues to recover nicely. A daily inspection of the surgical results confirms my opinion that Dr. Seghers ranks with Dr. Schrang as an excellent technician. But her stories of the nursing care and the overall quality of the hospital in Brussels make me equally convinced I'm doing wisely by choosing an American hospital.

She felt well enough to attend group today, even knowing how many questions the others would have for her. She handled herself very well. She says next week she is going to return to work part time if I can drive her for a few days. Of course I'll be happy to do so.

Gail is also returning to group therapy, which pleases me very much. Gail is the same age as my Mark, and it is so easy for me to think of her as my daughter. She is so cute about referring to me as "Mom." It sounds affected when Theresa or Margaux say it, but it's completely natural coming from Gail. By continuing in therapy she will improve her chances for getting clearance for surgery.

She has had so many different life experiences from the rest of us: growing up in a broken home, ignored if not actually abused, out on the street so early, living in the gay demimonde... but she has realized she is not a gay person, and is able to deal with her transsexualism in a manner very mature for her years.

Just when you think how mature she has become, she will say or do something to remind you she is only twenty-one. Her slang expressions are hilarious. Gail and Elena, another very young group member, are just like two college girls when they get together. They are both lovely and we older women (heavens, Margaux would die if she heard me refer to her as older!) enjoy taking them with us to Applebee's or TGI Friday's. I will have to mention some of their phrases in a later entry.

Sunday, July 3

Okay, let me tell you about Gailspeak. (Gailic?)

Understand: Gail was streetwise by 14 or 15 and moved out as soon as she finished high school. She has spent time in the Midtown Atlanta gay and drag scene and has adopted some of the mannerisms and slang,. When she finally understood she was transsexual, not gay, she dropped most of the affectations but still has them available for shock or comic value.

She has abandoned some of the older clichés such as "Grrrl...." and "Miss Thing", although she often refers to us as Miss Becky, Miss Margaux, or Miss Theresa. Often she will address someone else as "Child" or even "Bitch", with no derogatory intent.

"When I tell you..." means she is about to emphasize something.

When she sees or hears something that pleases her she may exclaim "Bitch, no, ma'am!" or "that ain't having it." A good looking guy (or girl; Gail's not picky) is "lunchy". If she really likes him she says "I live for him."

"Fishy" means feminine; as in "She is so fishy when she wears her hair like that." This leads to a term which is high praise indeed. It means someone who is so naturally, effortlessly feminine that "passing" is no longer a concern for them. I was flattered when she applied it to me.

"Miss Becky," she said, "You're just a fish out the house."

We all loved this. Theresa picked up on it with "shark out the shack," "cod out the condo," and so on until we threw pillows at her. Fish out the house, indeed.

Monday, July 4

Well, the Lord promised us we would never perish by floods again, but Georgia isn't so sure today. The worst natural disaster in Georgia history has wiped out roads and bridges in Macon and in central Georgia, and is threatening Albany and points south. Here in Atlanta it is so rainy that all the fireworks have been cancelled. Places as close as Jonesboro have had serious flash flooding.

Obviously there was no pool time in Roswell. We slept late and cooked hamburgers in the carport. Robert and Jeanne came over for a short time, then Robert had to go serve as a Red Cross volunteer. I'm thankful for our own safety from the floods.

Tuesday, July 5

I told Barbara today I was close to making a decision to go to Kentucky. We discussed my electrolysis and the need to get complete clearing before I move, since I don't know the situation with electrologists locally. She gave me a test treatment using the "blend" method on small areas in front of the ears, to see if I would have as much irritation as I did in early 1993. If not, the blend will help permanently remove those last remaining hairs better than thermolysis, which I had been using.

Just a few hours later the redness and swelling were gone. Apparently the blend will work. I'm ready to be done with electrolysis. All my operators have been good friends and very competent; but after 150 hours of lying on a table while needles are stuck in my face and connected to an electrical current, I'd hope to see an end to the procedure soon.

Wednesday, July 6

The pressure is on: Beverly from the Trover Clinic called today to tell me they had offered me a practice position. The offer is very competitive, with salary, bonuses, and fringe benefits which would make it possible for me to meet my obligations and still have a reasonably good lifestyle.

So why am I not overjoyed? I know why. The Trover Clinic is wonderful in every way but one. It's in a small town. I just don't know if I can adjust to small town life in my new role. It is at least an hour and a half from Nashville, and three to five hours from Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Memphis. There is very little to do in the small town except work.

The other problem is the more northerly location. I'm sure I could adjust to the colder winters, but I hate the thought of having to do so. I've lived in the Sunbelt all my life.

A bird in the hand is not to be lightly dismissed, however; and I definitely need to return to work soon. I told Beverly how very highly I regarded the offer and I would consider it strongly. I just needed a little more time to finish the interview I had already promised in Nacogdoches.

She was agreeable to postponing the decision, but only a little longer, since they had offered me the job first out of all their applicants. I was thrilled to hear that.

If only I could hear the bells ring and the birds sing when I think about Kentucky. If only I knew it was right.

Thursday, July 7

Could this be real? I had forgotten all about the resumé I sent to Phoenix early in June. Today I got a call from a Dr. Steve Price, a cardiologist with a large health maintenance organization in Phoenix. We talked for twenty minutes and he was very positive about my coming for an interview. Apparently they have reviewed numerous applications and like mine the best. My being female helps, as well as my age and experience. It's encouraging to know my record can still command respect!

Working for an HMO is anathema to some physicians who are diehard private practicioners. Personally I think it would be ideal. I would have no paperwork worries and could concentrate on practicing medicine. The salary and benefits sound competitive, if a little less than Trover Clinic; and they will assist me with the expenses of moving as well as getting my Arizona license.

And it's in Phoenix, which is one of the most desirable places to live in the entire country. Could it be that I will finally not have to "settle" for less than the best, but will see an ideal dream come true?

I will know more when the information package arrives in a day or two.

Friday, July 8

I wonder if I will ever have two good days in a row. Today I heard from the Medical Assurance Company, my malpractice carrier back in Mississippi, that my former patient did indeed contact them with intentions of filing a claim against me. He says he doesn't want to file a suit, but wants a one month extension on the statute of limitations so he can negotiate with the insurance company. If I don't agree to the extension and time runs out on a settlement, he will file suit.

I don't need this in my life. I will never believe I was guilty of any malpractice in his case. I remember it well. The X-ray equipment malfunction which prolonged the case was not due to any fault of mine. I immediately diagnosed the complication and referred him for artery repair. And he has been able to resume his usual work activities with no residual disability.

But I signed the extension and returned it to the insurance company. Never say I'm not cooperative.

Saturday, July 9

Thank goodness, no major events shook my life today. I was ready for a quieter day. The most eventful happening was the suture removal.

I had purchased a disposable suture removal kit and some sterile gloves. Theresa did her part for local anesthesia by taking two Lortabs and a Valium, and smoking a bowl. She was baked nicely when we began.

Margaux helped me gently clean the area and held the light to give me good visibility. Gail sat on Theresa's other side and tried to contain her nervous excitement. I worked on the external labia first, left followed by right. Then the urethral area and neoclitoris. Finally the sutures going into the vagina were easily clipped and removed. Theresa had a minimum of discomfort and was a very good patient.

The entire process bonded our little "family" together even more. We really seem to be developing a deep love for one another, with the common ordeals we have all faced or will face. Of course, as I removed sutures, I kept thinking that just a few weeks ago, Theresa's anatomy looked just as mine does. And now she is complete, and so happy.

And in just a few months...

Sunday, July 10

I called Lee Frances today and was disturbed to hear she had not been feeling well. She described an episode of swelling of her feet and legs and shortness of breath, which I recognized right away as being symptoms of early congestive heart failure. Lee simply will not go to a doctor. "They will just prescribe lots of expensive medicines, which I won't take. The Lord will take me when it's my time to go."

I just don't want her to have a stroke and require nursing home care. Her family will not be very understanding if that happens. I prescribed some Lasix and potassium for her aned insisted she see her family physician.

Monday, July 11

It's nice to be swimming with the sharks again. Tonight I had a dinner, sponsored by Knoll Pharmaceuticals, downtown at City Grill. The restaurant is one of Atlanta's finest and most upscale. I wore a teal green blazer I had recently bought on sale at Talbot's, with a white silk blouse and black and white print slacks.

It was so normal to walk in the door, past all the marble and brass decor, and tell the maitre d', "I am with the Knoll Pharmaceutical dinner."

"Yes, ma'am," he smiled. "Upstairs in the board room."

The horrible weather had kept half the registered doctors away, but I met several Atlanta cardiologists. I listened to a conversation between two.

"So, Lanny, how is the practice?"

"Very well, Tom. We have been looking to expand again and are considering taking a woman into the group, but haven't found anyone in the fellowship programs yet whom we think would work with us."

[Pause of about five seconds while Lanny turns to me]

"So, Rebecca. Where do you practice?"

I learned Lanny is a noninvasive cardiologist with a nine man group based in Gwinnett County. They cover numerous hospitals in north Atlanta and the suburbs, all the way to Cumming and Buford. After the meal (the grilled salmon was superb), he gave me one of his business cards and asked me to call his office manager.

No, I don't imagine anything will come out of it. I'm not even sure I would want the position, with as much travel time between hospitals as it involves. But I will call the office manager and follow up. It's just interesting how opportunities seem to be getting more numerous as I am close to a decision.

Tuesday, July 12

My orientation packet from Phoenix arrived with an itinerary for my interview and a list of approved hotels. I noted the Ritz-Carlton was one of the hotels. Could there be any other choice? I called the toll free number and made reservations for the very low rate of $79 a night.

Oh well, it probably won't work out, but at least I will get a fun trip to somewhere I've never been before, at the other person's expense. This afternoon I went to the Delta ticket office and purchased my round trip ticket between Atlanta and Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport (love these names: Sky Harbor, Valley of the Sun.)

At electrology I told Barbara of my trip to Phoenix and she was most excited. Barbara lived in Albuquerque when she was growing up, and loves the Southwest. "But you are going at the worst time of the year, when it's so hot," she warned me.

I did call the office manager of the Gwinnett Cardiology group, following up on my lead from Monday night. He was very friendly and arranged a meeting for Friday.

Wednesday, July 13

Today I got a call from Daniel and Yeager locum tenens asking me if I would do some temporary work at an internal medicine clinic in Athens specializing in weight control. They only need me one or two days a month. It will be slight extra money for the next few months, and I would like to see if there is more to the weight control practice than I had previously thought., Most doctors belittle the weight control clinics, but they certainly seem to have some satisfied patients.

I never thought I would consider practicing for an HMO, either.

This afternoon I finally talked with the doctor from Nacogdoches, Texas. I must say I was unimpressed with our telephone conversation. He doesn't sound like someone I could work with. I have learned to trust my intuition somewhat, and I don't think I will even follow up on this. Nacogdoches is another small town and I already have a good one of those.

Now if I hadn't agreed to go visit Phoenix, I would be ready to accept the offer from Madisonville. I will put them off until early next week. Some people have urged me to accept the offer, realizing I can decline it later. But I can't do that. It wouldn't be fair to the Trover Clinic to close the interview process, thinking the job was filled. I have to play by the rules.

Thursday, July 14

The certified mail was a letter from my insurance company back in Mississippi. They reported that my former patient had written them, and that he did intend to file a claim against me, but would prefer not to file a lawsuit. The claim is going to be for $300,000; but he says if he has to go to court he will ask $654,000.

My insurance limits are $200,000.

I really don't think he has a case. I am confident of my care; but what if he could convince a jury he is right? I have no resources which would help pay, so I'm sure I would have to declare bankruptcy.

I ran the information past Bettie. She says she stays with domestic law, and does not do litigation; but she recommended I talk to Dale. He is a very good litigator as well as one of my best friends. I started drafting a letter to Dale and made him aware of the whole incident.

There is no way I am going to lie awake nights worrying about this. If it happens I will deal with it later. Right now I will trust Dale - and the Lord.

Friday, July 15

I found the Gwinnett Cardiology Office without difficulty and had a productive meeting with Mr. Zimmer, the office administrator. They are indeed looking for other associates, but they have tendered an offer to a physician in California, and if he accepts it, they will not need anyone else at this time.

By the time they hear from this doctor I will already have made a decision. This group isn't so attractive anyway; they have staff privileges at nine different area hospitals, and make rounds in all of them when taking call. It's too physically demanding.

At least I'm satisfied I have looked.

The mail brought a wonderful, friendly letter from one of my classmates from Greenwood High School who had hosted one of the parties at the time of our reunion. She enlosed several pictures and reiterated how happy she was over my decision and how she respects my courage. It was a welcome boost.

Yes, the pictures do look good. I had nothing to be ashamed of at the reunion.

Tonight Theresa had to work late, so Margaux, Gail, Elena, and I went to TGI Friday's for supper. We don't even worry about four quite tall women being out in public together. Individually, we all pass flawlessly; and we do so as a group also. I didn't stay out too late, since tomorrow is my day to travel to Arizona.

Saturday, July 16

Today's the day: Packing my bags with lightweight summer clothes, I arrived early at the Atlanta airport to confirm my seat. The flight to Phoenix was one-stop in Dallas Fort Worth. As I always do for brief trips, I carried all my luggage on board to avoid any possible errors in handling. The layover made for about five hours' trip, and with the time change I arrived in Phoenix around 3:00 P.M.

The Ritz sent a courtesy car for me and the driver flirted with me all the way to the hotel. I, for my part, did not discourage him. Travel is so much more enjoyable these days.

If I've ever stayed in a nicer hotel, I can't remember it. Every luxury amenity was present. The rates are very low in the summer, and the staff is extra attentive to our needs.

I explored the neighborhood and found the Biltmore Fashion Park across the street. It's an upscale shopping center with a Saks, I. Magnin, and numerous boutiques and restaurants. The Broadway department store was having a summer sale and the windows were decorated with a cute theme titled "... But it's a DRY heat." It was true; 105 degrees felt like about 85 feels in the humid Southeast.

I had dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and browsed the Borders Bookstore, looking for local Arizona titles. In the magazine section I was scanning the titles when I came to a screeching halt at the current issue of The New Yorker. The headline article was titled, in large print, "Women who Have Surgery to Become Men."

Good heavens. I go two thousand miles from home and still can't get away from it. This was humorous. I coolly bought a copy and read it back in the hotel room: they interviewed several female to male transsexuals I had met, and had pictures of some. It was really a very sympathetic article and well written. Our "community" needs more such.

The clock said midnight when I got to bed, but my body said 3:00 A.M. I had no trouble getting to a sound sleep.

Sunday, July 17

The room service I had ordered last night was delivered promptly at 9:00 A.M. and I already had bathed and fixed my hair. The food was so beautifully presented, I wished I had a camera. My papaya was fan-sliced and arranged in three portions flanked by fresh strawberries and raspberries and garnished with lemon wedges. But it was for eating, not preserving, and it tasted as good as it looked.

I relaxed until early afternoon when my tour guide arrived. She was a realtor who had been contacted by Arizona Insights, the relocation company used by the HMO. We toured the area and saw several patio homes for sale, all with the Santa Fe style of architecture. I love the look of these homes and I know I'll want to go Southwestern if I move here.

It would be easy to fall in love with Phoenix. And nearby are Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Tucson, and Mexico. San Diego and Los Angeles are easy weekend trips. Phoenix has all the cultural amenities I see in Atlanta, but have been too poor to enjoy.

Certainly Phoenix has more to offer than Madisonville, Kentucky. I feel guilty thinking such thoughts; but they are obviously true.

I had dinner at Sam's Cafe, a popular Southwestern restaurant, and then walked over to the cinema to see The Lion King. I loved the Disney animators' work. My favorite scene in the movie came when the old baboon was trying to persuade Simba to return to save the pride. He reminded Simba that he had been the heir to the throne. Simba was unimpressed, saying, "It doesn't matter; that was in the past."

The baboon whacked Simba sharply over the head with his cane. "Ouch," cried Simba, "What did you do that for?"

"It doesn't matter," replied the baboon. "It's in the past."

Our past can come back to haunt us sometimes. Even if I move to Phoenix, I still have to incorporate past reality into my present situation.

Not a bad lesson from a cartoon.

Monday, July 18

Reluctantly I checked out of the Ritz and waited in the lobby. Very soon Wanda and Chris, from the recruitment office, picked me up and we were off to our interviews. I had a wonderful time getting to know both these women, and we spent much time together during the day.

First I met Dr. Stephanie Henderson, one of the internists, who has been with the practice for two years. She and her family love living in Phoenix. The working relationship between the general internists and the subspecialists seems very cordial.

My next interview was with Dr. Price, the chief of Internal Medicine. He is a native of Jacksonville and did his cardiology training in the Army. He has been here over ten years. We got along very well and he showed me around the department.

More interviews followed with other physicians and the chief of the medical staff. In between, Wanda and Chris discussed fringe benefits and insurance plans with me.

I heard the bells ring! This is it. I knew I wanted this more than I have wanted any job. As the day progressed every interview made me more certain. I determined not to let the opportunity slip away. At our exit interview I made it clear to Wanda that I wanted this position and would like an early decision, since I had another offer. She was very positive about the possibility of a decision within a few days.

At the end of the afternoon Wanda and Chris showed me more parts of town that I had not seen Sunday, including Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. We ended the day with dinner at Avanti, an old Phoenix landmark restaurant. By the time they delivered me to the Sky Harbor airport, we were old friends. I said goodbye knowing I would be back.

I rested in the gate area and boarded my plane around 11:00 P.M. Phoenix time, which is 2:00 A.M. Atlanta time. The red-eye flight. I took out my contacts and went to sleep.

Tuesday, July 19

I awoke to the pilot's announcement that we were cleared for landing in Atlanta. My long morning was beginning. I carried my luggage off the plane and through the maze of escalators and trains that is the Atlanta airport, finally reaching my car. My glasses gave me good enough vision to drive, although not as good as my contacts. Traffic on the interstate was still not bad at 6:30 and I found myself on the new highway to Athens without difficulty.

After a fast food breakfast at Hardee's I found the Victor Weight Control Clinic. I arrived promptly at nine, and Dr. Victor entered the office just a few minutes later. I observed her as she saw four patients in every 15 minute time slot. I was impressed that these people had all lost significant amounts of weight and were very pleased with their results. Perhaps we are too quick to judge practice methods that seem foreign to us.

I must have yawned a little too obviously. Dr. Victor was aware of my schedule for today, and knew how sleepy I was. "You have been here nearly three hours," she said, "and you know the procedure. Why not drive carefully back home and take a nice long nap? We will call you and arrange dates for you to work."

And so I did, thanking her sincerely. I remember very little else of this day.

Wednesday, July 20

Back to the routine of Car Pool Mom, I carried Margaux to work and Gail to school. I do love my roommates, but I have to make the decision that is right for me. They will have enough advance notice of my move to make their plans.

I spent the day catching up on paperwork and bills which had accumulated while I was out of town. I wrote several letters telling about Arizona.

At supper and afterwards I discussed my plans with everyone. They seem excited for me, but I know some difficult times are ahead. We rented movies from Blockbuster and stayed up till 3:00 watching V.I. Warshawski and Cool World.

Thursday, July 21

'Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late.
"'Round Here" by Counting Crows

Today I compensated for staying up so late by sleeping till ten. I decided to hang around the telephone in case someone from Phoenix calls. Margaux says if I wait on the call it won't come.

I made several calls of my own. Lee Frances is feeling a little better but still retaining too much fluid, so I called her pharmacy in Jackson and increased her diuretic. I warned her again to see her family practicioner in Jackson; but I doubt she will.

The switchboard operator at the Theda Clark Medical Center was cheerful. "Yes, we do have an Angela Wilson. Would you like to connect to her room, ma'am?"

Angela sounded well and seemed very glad to hear from me. Two days ago she had her sex reassignment surgery, as well as tracheal shave and augmentation mammoplasty. The pain has been less than she expected. She was very complimentary of Dr. Schrang and all the hospital personnel.

She has already set a date for her followup surgery, the "labiaplasty". This is a procedure to reverse the orientation of the external labia so they are anatomically correct. It can't be done at the original surgery because of concerns for tissue survival and blood supply. Angela's labiaplasty will be November 10, one day before I am to be discharged from the same hospital.

One way or another, we can't escape each other. I will be glad to see her again. I told her of my practice possibilities and the offer I hoped to get from Phoenix.

I worked on my Arizona license application, so it would be ready in the event of an offer. Finally around 6:00 P.M. I could stand it no longer. I called the number for the recruiters and reached Chris.

"Hi, Dr. Allison. We were just wondering if Wanda had spoken with you yet."

"Well... no, she hasn't. Is she planning to call?"

"Yes. She is in California on business, but before she left she told me she would call you sometime this evening."

I hate to beg, but... "Er, Chris, did she say what would be the substance of the call?"

Her voice sounded very pleased. "All I can tell you is that it's a very GOOD call. Now be sure and act surprised when she tells you."


I hugged Margaux in delight. The time zone difference made me wait another two hours before the phone rang while I was preparing corned beef barbecue for supper. Wanda confirmed what I already knew: they have offered me the job. They want me to start as soon as my license is approved, probably late October.

The pay will be more than adequate, even though not what a busy private practice would bring. But I will have no administrative hassles, good hours, opportunities for teaching, and excellent fringe benefits. And I get to live in one of the most livable cities in the country.

It's almost too good to be true. I said a heartfelt prayer of thanks.

Now I will have to see if I can get my surgery date adjusted so I can be recovered by time to go to work.

Friday, July 22

My roommates reacted to my news in different ways. Gail is so young and resilient; she will have a friend out West to visit now. She just wants to know all about my surgery and make plans for hers.

Theresa has mixed feelings about the move. She has been outspoken about how much she loves our "family" here. Of course, I agree with her. I tried to find work in Georgia, but the only positions available were unsatisfactory. There was no position which would have allowed me to do the level of cardiology practice I want to do. I had to look out of state for the best situations.

Her mind knows this, but her heart wishes I would stay. I hope I will always have a friend in Theresa, no matter how far apart we are.

Margaux surprised me the most. Very hesitantly at first, and then enthusiastically, she began to ask about the possibility of living in Phoenix. She doesn't want to pressure me into having her come with me, but she would be very interested in making a new start of her own. There would be ample opportunities for graphic design in Phoenix, and she might find more satisfying work than she could in Atlanta.

It's a fascinating idea. We would be a support for each other in a new city...

Have I been down this road before???

No; not the same road. I won't make the same mistakes with Margaux that I did with Angela. Margaux and I have already had the little "talk" and agreed that it is much better for us to be good and true friends, not to try to go beyond friendship.

We would just be two single women who happen to share living quarters, with the understanding that the arrangement lasts only until one of us finds Prince Charming.

I finished the paperwork for my Arizona application and wrote checks totaling $750.00, which will be reimbursed when I go to work. I dropped everything in the mail on the way to my appointment with Dr. Mauger.

Dr. Mauger is Dr. Powell's partner and had agreed to write my second letter for surgery. He and I reviewed the results of my repeat MMPI and compared it to the one I took in May of 1993. "It's a very stable pattern," he said, "and there is no evidence of any psychopathology. I think you are ready to move on with your life, and this opportunity in Phoenix seems just right."

"Even if I need to move up my surgery date?"

"In your case, yes. Not everyone is ready so fast, but by working and by getting this job offer, you have shown that you are fully socialized as a woman. The Real Life Test doesn't have to be identical for each person."

When I returned home I called Wisconsin and spoke directly with Dr. Schrang. The earliest available date he had was October 11, but he was glad to schedule me for that. If I don't have to have a skin graft, I should be healed enough to go to work by the 24th.

It's hard to believe matters are finally working out properly.

Saturday, July 23

Car Pool Mom returned from taking Margaux to work and Gail to school, to find a note on the door saying Federal Express had tried to deliver a document and no one was home. They will return Monday. Darn! It was my contract from Phoenix. Now I have to wait two more days before securing my future.

Oh, well. T'ai Chi class was very helpful in focusing on matters of the moment and forgetting the earth shaking events. I worked up a good sweat and relaxed with a strawberry smoothie before picking up my passengers and going to group therapy.

The discussion today centered around Michelle's conflicts with her co-workers since her transition on the job. We are all afraid she is pushing for too much acceptance too soon and will jeopardize the gains she has already made. She is hard to convince of this.

But as I've said before, the difference between a transsexual and a terrorist is: you can negotiate with a terrorist.

Dr. Powell was very supportive of my moving up the date for my surgery. He urged me not to tell others in the group, however, because obviously not everyone is ready early as I am, and he would have a difficult time explaining to others why they couldn't get a surgery letter just like Becky did.

Back home I made two fresh strawberry pies, one for the luncheon at church tomorrow, and one for "family use". It is one of my most requested recipes. Theresa and Margaux each had two big pieces. Gail and Elena returned from group and finished off the rest. I did get one piece, which was plenty.

Sunday, July 24

My friends at Sunday School were very supportive of my plans to move. It seems that living out West is sort of a dream of many persons, and someone who achieves that dream is to be congratulated. I will miss them so much. My first experiences as a woman in a religious setting will leave beautiful memories.

The group at lunch liked the pie as much as my roommates do.

And speaking of my roommates, I have never seen such sunburned bodies as Theresa's and Margaux's. Gail, with her dark complexion, fared much better. They spent the day up on Lake Lanier without enough sunscreen.

I don't think they will forget the sunscreen again.

Monday, July 25

The contracts arrived by Federal Express. I studied them and made photocopies. I had minor questions about the wording, but overall it is quite satisfactory. I will sign and return them in a day or two.

Now I will have to notify the Trover Clinic of my decision; and how I dread that. Those people were so nice to me. I have never handled being a disappointment to someone. I'm sure that is part of the reason I waited so long to transition.

I found a study preparation book for the SPEX exam at the Emory Bookstore. After looking over the first 25 questions and answering them all correctly, I felt much better about my chances for passing the exam. I'll still study hard for it.

Another preparation now is physical exercise, to get me in shape for surgery. We are all concerned that I have a speedy recovery to allow me to go to work so quickly after surgery. Tonight I walked and jogged briskly for over half an hour. I was sweating and winded afterward, but tolerated it very well.

Tuesday, July 26

I knew I could no longer postpone calling Kentucky. First I called Karen, the recruiter who had notified me of the situation in the first place. She understood my dilemma and acknowledged that Trover Clinic's rural location was the negative factor that persuaded many physicians to go elsewhere. I promised her I would keep her number in case I knew of anyone who needed her services.

Then I dialed the physician recruitment office at Trover Clinic. Beverly, the head of the office, answered. She was the only person to whom I had disclosed my history. I explained to her as gently as I could that I felt the urban environment was best for me. I believe she understood. She promised me she would tell Dr. Johnson how much I enjoyed meeting him. I wished them the best and said goodbye.

It was an emotional moment for me: I hate having to disappoint someone. It's one of my psychological quirks that causes me much sorrow. "Margaux," I sniffled, "I hope I haven't made a terrible mistake." But I knew I had not made a mistake, and she agreed. Soon I was able to talk to Wanda in Phoenix and my emotions changed to happiness and excitement.

This afternoon I told Gina and Charles at Taylor Made all about my plans. They were very excited about my finding work, but sad about my leaving. I will see them at least twice more before I go, and I promised to return to Atlanta for visits.

I hated leaving all my friends in Jackson, but soon I made new friends in Atlanta. And now...

Wednesday, July 27

Rain. More rain. All the way from Marietta, where I took Gail to school, to Snellville for my electrolysis. Forty days and forty nights.

I think I will be ready for the Valley of the Sun.

I told Barbara all my news and she was so excited. She has occasion to visit Phoenix frequently and promises to come and see me. Incidentally, I tolerated the blend electrolysis with no problem.

Perhaps I will not be without friends in Phoenix after all. On their own, Theresa and Gail have been investigating possibilities for work out there. It would be wonderful to have them close by, if they will not be depending on me for finances. I just have to budget very tightly for now.

Maybe it is a chance for a new life for all of us. It might be best, however, if each of us were strong enough to succeed independently of the others. I don't want anything to ruin my chances for a wonderful new life. I also don't want to set up a situation where the possibility for friction and fighting among ourselves might have more serious consequences. Theresa and Margaux can be quite antagonistic toward each other at times.

Tonight we rented The Getaway with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. It was set mostly in Arizona: an omen? And it had a happy ending.

Afterwards I lay in bed listening to one of Margaux's self hypnosis tapes, "Your Surgery: Before and After." One minute I was listening to the speaker count down from ten to zero; the next minute it was morning. Apparently I am an easily inducible subject for hypnosis!

Thursday, July 28

These tapes are interesting. There is a disclaimer at the beginning saying "Don't listen while driving." Of course, we ignore that. I think I was just so sleepy last night that I would have gone right to sleep without the tapes.

So I'm taking Gail to the Roffler school and we are listening to the surgery preparation tape. "Can you hear any voices?" I asked her over the sounds of the surf.

"I can't hear anything," she complained. But after a minute she went into dramatic mode. "OH! Yes. I hear them."

"What are they saying?" I laughed.

"They are saying, 'child, your pussy ain't gonna be having it.'"

Friday, July 29

More fun in the automobile (do not try this at home, we are trained professionals):

Now I'm driving down Georgia 400. Traffic is light. I'm wearing the denim jumper I bought at the outlet mall in Commerce; it has a slit up the side where it buttons. Yes, I guess I'm showing a little leg.

In the adjacent lane is a nice looking guy driving a panel truck. Izod shirt, nice tan. He smiles. I return the smile and promptly forget him as I accelerate. But after a minute or so there he is, back again. What's that he has in his hand?

It's a piece of cardboard... a hand lettered sign. What in the world? I glance over.

Only two words, nice, bold and legible from a distance. "Nice legs".

I wonder how nice my blush was. A pickup line at sixty miles an hour.

Too bad his exit was before mine.

Saturday, July 30

Cindy, my friend from Belgium, called today. She will be in town briefly Monday morning (as her male alter ego) and will get together with me for a visit for a couple of hours. I haven't seen Cindy since last fall. We always have lots to talk about, even though we communicate frequently by E-mail.

After group therapy, Jerry and Lynn Montgomery took me to supper at The Olive Garden. I haven't had the opportunity to spend as much time with the leaders of the Montgomery Institute as I would have liked. They are wonderful people, who give so much to us with so little return. They simply feel called to help. The joy they get from seeing someone like me make a successful transition is reward in itself.

We discussed my move, and I let them know of my concern for the success of the move if everyone accompanies me. Jerry emphasized to me that I need to consider myself first; this is my job and my life, after all. I already had decided that I might need to get out on my own, at least first. It will be better for my friends too, having to make their own way and build their own confidence. Later, if they accumulate enough resources and want to move independently, it would be wonderful to have them in the same city. But we need to each stand alone.

Sunday, July 31

The alarm was set for 7:30 but I awoke at 6:45 and couldn't get back to sleep. After a few minutes I realized: it's Communion Sunday. My church gives communion in the chapel the last Sunday of every month. I dressed quickly and arrived right on time. I'm still a little new to Methodism, but I love the symbolism of going forward, kneeling at the altar, and being served by the minister. It was a beautiful service in a beautiful chapel setting.

After church I watched a movie, Raising Arizona (I know! another one), with Gail; then exercised and practiced my T'ai Chi. Later, after everyone was home, I cooked supper with bacon, scrambled eggs, cheese grits casserole and cornbread. The meal was delicious and the best part was, I sat and relaxed afterward while they all cleaned up!


© 1996 Rebecca Anne Allison